In this concept of the internet’s evolution, we will fusing augmented and virtual reality with the real world. Like how Google Glasses initially tried back in 2014, but with less bulky eyeglasses, specialized monitors, VR headsets, IoT windows or other displays.
This can be great for games. This can be great for businesses with an international presence. This could be great for disabled or injured people to better interact with our insistent-abled society. There could be new ways to help people with various phobias, especially agoraphobia … this could help aid in treating trans people with extreme body dysphoria before they undergo gender affirmative therapy.
One way many trans people try to relieve their gender dysphoria is playing video games as a character with same gender identity they associate with; comparatively, the metaverse could allow a trans person to design a live, 3D digital representation of themselves as their true gender, to live as a digital version of themself as a member of their gender identity that interacts with the real world. Adjust their height, change their vocal tone and pitch, manipulate the appear of secondary physical characteristics, whatever they need to manipulate to look more like something they are comfortable presenting as. Others will address them properly without asking for pronouns, without deadnaming, possibly even avoid discrimination or harassment. Work, order out, go on virtual dates, socialize, you name it!
This could also be far cheaper for trans people to access and utilize, compared to traditional gender affirmative therapy.
Just like with video game and internet addictions, though, this could create an addiction where trans folx may not want to log off, as re-emerging into the real world without the metaverse could create a serious surge in dysphoria. They could become social recluses and just interact with the world through the metaverse, not unlike the hikikomori of Japan, the tang ping of China, or the various sedae of Korea. Real world relationships get disrupted or ghosted. Sleep and basic hygiene may be skipped to avoid having to deal with their real-world body; constantly be stimulated by the artificial lights of the metaverse may even cause or worsen other health issues. Impulses may increase. Without actually and physically eating and drinking, they may begin to suffer malnutrition and other health issues; because their online friends and associates may only see them virtually/augmently, they may not what’s going and if something were to happen, not know to call paramedics if something serious were to happen. If trans people don’t change their name and gender identity legally, this can open them up to threats by their local government if they are queerphobic and transphobic, as their online connection can easily be traced back to them.
The benefits and drawbacks of the metaverse will be exponentially greater than what the current internet allows. Thanks to the internet, trans people can better find others like ourselves (especially if, like me, they are from conservative small-town and rural areas), find safe spaces, find online resources, and be able to some extent live as our authentic selves if they can’t socially or physically transition offline. The internet also makes us easier targets for online and real-world harassment and discrimination if doxed or otherwise outed. The metaverse will only enhance these—it’s best we take this optimistically, as well as cautiously.